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Chop Shop

The Sixth Atrocity: Potestate Conversions

by Eric Brennan
Apr 29,2003


The Sixth Atrocity: Potestate Conversions

Alright, when last we left we'd discussed the basics of character conversion between the d20 Engel and the White Wolf Storyteller System. This week, we're going to talk about converting basic dice rolling mechanics and the powers of the Engel, called Potestates. This probably won't take long, so expect this to be a shorter column, and I think I've got a surprise or two for next column that my small but ideally loyal band of readers will enjoy.

Difficulty Conversions

The most important thing to convert when looking at the Potestates is the way a Difficulty Class in d20 converts to a number of required successes in Storyteller Revised. Since the flavor of Storyteller Revised we're talking about relies on a flat target number of 7 at all times, we need to set a threshold of successes needed for various tasks.

The general rule of thumb I'm going to use is that a difficulty class of 5 or 10 in d20 equals a standard difficulty of 1 in Storyteller Revised. That means that a player only has to roll one success from his dice pool in order to meet the difficulty. For every 5 the DC in d20 goes up, the difficulty in Storyteller Revised increases by +1. Thus, a DC of 15 equals a difficulty of 2 in Storyteller, requiring two successes. A DC of 20 requires a difficulty of 3, and so on.

The reason why these DCs are so important is that successful use of a Potestate sets a DC modifier for targets of the Potestate to resist its effects. We have to be able to convert the DC into a difficulty for Storyteller, obviously, and the above system is both quick and roughly accurate enough to play with.


Since Potestates in Engel are handled with discrete skills, and I don't want to add any new skills, I'll create three new stats - Signum, Scriptura, and Sigil. Every starting PC will get 5 points to distribute between them, and can buy another point with 7 Freebie Points during character generation. New points will cost, as is typical in Storyteller, the current level of the Stat x 4. These points in Signum, Scriptura and Sigil will establish the dice pools with which people make Potestate rolls, and if two of the stats are required for the roll, the PC can use whichever is lower.

Example: Guter uses "Light of the Lord," a Potestate which requires Signum and Sigil. His Signum stat is 3, his Sigil stat 4, and so he uses the lower stat to resolve the roll.

We'll continue to use the conversion chart settled on above, so if a Potestate like "Tohu Wa Bohu" (pg. 204) requires a roll of 10-14 in d20 to set a Will Save DC of 10, 1 success is required to set the difficulty at 1 in Storyteller. On the other hand, "Light of the Lord" says any roll of 1-15 sets the Reflex Save DC at 15, which means that any roll of 1 or 2 successes for "Light of the Lord" sets the difficulty needed in Storyteller at +2, or requires 2 successes. Make sense?

Now, you'll notice the above that there's a lot of talk about Will Saves and Reflex Saves and there's no elegant way to do a conversion from d20 to Storyteller for this. We're going to have to get sloppy, which is okay because last column we agreed we just wanted something that made roleplaying Engel in the Storyteller System a reality. So - when d20 calls for a Will Save, our Storyteller conversion will use a Willpower roll (which exists on a scale of 1-10.) When it calls for a Con Save, we'll use a Stamina + Athletics roll, (which, with both stats being from 1-5, gives us an effective 1-10 roll like the Willpower roll) and any calls for a Reflex Save will result in the PC rolling Dex + Dodge.

Another aspect of Potestates is how they affect combat - we'll say that a +1 in combat equates to a +1 dice bonus. Of course, this beggars the question - how does damage in d20 convert over to damage in Storyteller? This is a really complex question, but for our purposes (and because we're doing this sloppily) we'll say that for every 3 points of potential damage there is a converted dice of damage rolled in Storyteller. Thus, 1d6 damage in d20 results in a roll of 2 dice, with any successes being a successful hit. For melee, thrown and archery combat, in Storyteller the PC will add his Strength in dice to the weapons base damage, so something that does 1d6 damage in d20 will do 2 dice + (Strength in dice) damage in our Storyteller conversion.

Finally, we need to establish how PCs will buy Potestates. We'll say that every player starts with 2, and can buy new ones with 5 Freebie Points, or 10 XP. The game effect of this is that PCs will probably have two or four powers as the game begins (about standard for, say, Vampire: the Masquerade) and will increase them at a steady rate while probably trying to increase her Sigil, Signum and Scriptorum stats. In addition, the d20 method of keeping the use of Potestates in check is to charge the PC hit points. However, in Storyteller most PCs only have 7 Health Levels and these don't go up with experience, so I'll create a pool of power points, which we'll call Lux (just because I can't think of anything better --.) The PC starts with a number of Lux equal to the sum of his three stats, Signum, Scriptorum, and Sigil. They will regenerate at 1 point per hour, thus giving us a faster recharge time in our version than in the d20 version. (Remember that last column we decided that I should make sure we give the PCs more opportunities to use their power - faster recharge rates guarantee that.)

So, with the above in place we have the means to convert most of the Potestates. Those of you with the Engel rulebook, feel free to try it out, or point out if there are any Potestates that require more work than the above. I'll convert one in the forums for people to discuss as soon as the column goes up.


So, this was our first sloppy, anything-goes conversion. The main purpose was just to show that with a set of guidelines like those above and in last week's column, you could run a game from another system. This isn't rocket science here, it's just something fast to get you up and playing quickly in a system you like. It won't be perfect - the idea is to get a "good fit." We'll try doing a perfect conversion later.

By the way, I'm very much interested in comments on how the last two columns went. I get the feeling that it was very academic and dry, and somewhat swiftly done, so if anyone has any opinions, hit the forums and let me know. I'll try to do something different next time we tackle conversions - perhaps releasing a .pdf conversion and then discussing the "how to" in the actual column.

Anyway, see you in 30!

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